Not to knock you, but this sentence is where I think the issue is - at some point motivation drops off and you need what I like to label as "discipline" to progress further.
The best piece of advice I heard was from someone getting awarded their 5th degree black belt in Aikido, something that takes decades to earn [I'm paraphrasing here]: Training is like a marriage. It is great in the beginning because you are learning all these new things and improving, like the honeymoon phase, everything seems to be great. But over time, that feeling will decrease a bit. Sometimes you wonder if its worth it at all. But, like a marriage, training takes effort and even years down the road you still have to work on it. Not just maintaining it, but actually working on it.
I also like a book by George Leonard called "Mastery"  that I think I've linked on HN before. In the book, he's taking the position of the instructor to explain types of "student behaviors" he's seen over the years - Dabblers, Obsessives, and Hackers (people who just "show up"). As learners, people will behave like one of these types on their way to becoming masters in an domain. Each student type stressed the same topic - dealing with when improvement "gets hard" and what steps can be done to help curb some of those issues.
James Clear has a nice summary here:
The key message that stuck with me was that the early stages of the mastery slope are exciting because of how much new knowledge we gain. However, most of life is spent in the plateaus, and learning to love the plateaus is key to finding persistence and self discipline.
I realize that this is a purely personal anecdote and I realize this is not how people get rich, run a triathlon or change the world, but maybe I just can't do those things.
Its more a sign of both - the student's willingness to adjust and the teacher's willingness to refine. The reason I say both is that you run into students that have a better chance of picking something up right away (prior experience) and others that do not. The student that does not have that prior experience still needs it in order to be successful. A good instructor knows not to only focus on the people with prior experience and help boost the latter as well.
For example, in martial arts (as I noted elsewhere), you have someone who has prior experience in body coordination, which makes it easier for them to pick up an art (or dance or a sport). A student whose never stepped on to a mat in their life still needs body coordination. While a good instructor should see that and help build that coordination, the student needs to develop motivation and discipline to do these things without the need of someone else. An out of shape student should needs to recognize they need to put in extra work to move up a level - that is something the instructor can only point out.
A great book I use as a backing to my teaching philosophy is Mastery by George Leonard. It categories the different personalities of the student into Dabbler, Obsessive, and Hacker (not in a good way). Dabblers try but quit when things get hard; Obsessives consume everything possible until they start seeing diminished returns; and Hackers just kind of "show up" and steadily maintain/improve. People can be all three for different things but its handling the particular category appropriately that pushes people toward mastery.
Read .. Mastery by George Leonard
Get a mentor
Write code every day
Ask for feedback
Learn the culture. Watch the movies Hackers. Learn perl, C, or BASIC.
Install Linux on your main computer.
Find an open source project and contribute to it. Even if it's just documentation.
If anyone is interested, this book has given me a vastly different perspective on things like exercise (or in parent's case, martial arts): http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfill...
When put in that perspective, I think exercise would greatly appeal to most hackers.
I struggled with this as well. A big turning point for me was dropping entirely the notion of being entitled to anything. In reality, no one owes me anything just because I think I'm smart or because I think I work hard.
On the feeling unaccomplished part, maybe try reading a book like http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfill.... It's sort of a "the goal is the journey" book with some practical advice thrown in.
> As a kid I used to hit the video games pretty hard, but at some point I started to realize how fake the achievements felt. I literally can't stomach playing video games anymore. It feels like taking some sort of numbing drug. I have good memories, and I don't even regret most of the weekends I devoted entirely to video games (and the costs associated).
Me too! It sucks sometimes because I want to enjoy playing a game but don't. I've found that I can't play games, like Skyrim, that are just time-based grinds. Instead, I play games for the nostalgia, the story, for creativity elements, or for the competition/skill factor. Sometimes even then I feel uneasy playing games because I feel like I should be doing something more productive.. that's a tough feeling to get over.
> I worked a job last summer teaching kids. I still visit from time to time, and the trend of positive reinforcement and lack of criticism seems to be gaining momentum in our youth. My boss would not let me criticize my own students.
I don't think these things are mutually exclusive. You can certainly criticize and be positive (or at least not negative) about it.
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